Temple and Connecticut exchanged punches with each other early in the first half.
But after Temple (11-10, 3-6 American Athletic Conference) landed its second punch, the Huskies (11-10, 4-4 The American) never countered as the Owls won, 85-57, on Sunday at the Liacouras Center.
After suffering its worst loss of the season against Cincinnati last week, Temple bounced back at home against the Huskies.
“We felt like we had a poor performance against Cincinnati,” junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. said. “We wanted to show people that we were a good team also. So we just needed to get that win back.”
Shizz Alston Jr. and Obi Enechionyia https://t.co/Qqvwb0g13n— Evan Easterling (@Evan_Easterling) January 29, 2018
The Owls also maintained their lead late into the second half against UConn. In previous games against Cincinnati, Memphis and La Salle, Temple let its lead slip and finished by losing those games.
A 24-4 run late in the first half helped Temple hold a double-digit lead for more than half of the contest.
After the Huskies connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to take the lead, Alston started the run for Temple with his own trey. He finished with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, plus three rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Owls had four players score in double-figures, including three starters.
Sophomore guard Quinton Rose poured in 17 points, including an emphatic alley-oop in the second half. Junior center Ernest Aflakpui also chipped in a season-high 13 points, which was one point shy of a career-high.
“We just kept at it and kept the pressure up, didn’t let down,” said senior forward Obi Enechionyia, who had nine points and 10 rebounds, eight of which were offensive. “We’ve had opportunities to have games like this, this season as well as a lot of games since I’ve been at Temple. We just took our foot off the pedal, and tonight we didn’t.”
Fran Dunphy https://t.co/si1nXCe9Sr— Evan Easterling (@Evan_Easterling) January 29, 2018
Temple also held UConn junior guard Jalen Adams in check offensively. Adams, who is fourth in The American in scoring with 17.9 points per game, only scored seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Alston said Temple knew UConn liked to run ball screens for Adams in the half-court set. He attributed the Owls’ success against Adams to redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown, Enechionyia and Afalkpui’s efforts against the screens.
“They were just denying off the ball screen,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Double teaming him, pretty much blitzing him. So we just gotta do a better job of getting the other guys in ready positions.”
The Owls will host Wichita State, which is ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, on Thursday at the Liacouras Center. The Shockers (17-4, 7-2 The American) have lost two of their past four games.
Kevin Ollie https://t.co/fAdOQ9uZcl— Evan Easterling (@Evan_Easterling) January 29, 2018
Enechionyia said he hopes the Owls can carry the energy from their victory against the Huskies into Thursday’s game against the Shockers.
“Coming off that loss to Cincinnati, this game was huge for us,” Enechionyia said. “I think we’re going to look to build on that momentum and just go into that game with the same mindset that we did today.”